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Publisher's Summary

A rural working-class New England town elects as its mayor a New York hedge fund millionaire in this inspired novel for our times - fiction in the tradition of Jonathan Franzen and Jennifer Egan.

Mark Firth is a contractor and home restorer in Howland, Massachusetts, who feels opportunity passing his family by. After being swindled by a financial advisor, what future can Mark promise his wife, Karen, and their young daughter, Haley? He finds himself envying the wealthy weekenders in his community whose houses sit empty all winter.

Philip Hadi used to be one of these people. But in the nervous days after 9/11, he flees New York and hires Mark to turn his Howland home into a year-round "secure location" from which he can manage billions of dollars of other people's money. The collision of these two men's very different worlds - rural vs. urban, middle class vs. wealthy - is the engine of Jonathan Dee's powerful new novel.

Inspired by Hadi, Mark looks around for a surefire investment: the mid-decade housing boom. Over Karen's objections, and teaming up with his troubled brother, Gerry, Mark starts buying up local property with cheap debt. Then the town's first selectman dies suddenly and Hadi volunteers for office. He soon begins subtly transforming Howland in his image - with unexpected results for Mark and his extended family.

Here are the dramas of 21st-century America - rising inequality, working class decline, a new authoritarianism - played out in the classic setting of some of our greatest novels: the small town. The Locals is that rare work of fiction capable of capturing a fraught American moment in real time.

©2017 Jonathan Dee (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"There could not be a more timely novel than The Locals. It examines the American self and American selfishness from 9/11 until today. Jonathan Dee has given us a master class in empathy and compassion, a vital book." (Nathan Hill, author of The Nix)
"Summons up a small American town at precisely the right moment in our history...a bold, vital, and view-expanding novel." (George Saunders)

What members say

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • kimberly
  • Columbia, MO, United States
  • 08-17-17

A LONG Boring Journey That Ultimately Goes Nowhere.

I had high hopes for this book, but they were quickly dashed....I settled for mediocre hopes; but alas, not even those were fulfilled!

A story with pretensions; this was a 9 hour Seinfeld episode: a story about nothing. No plot, no real character development, nothing driving it....ughhhh the more I think about it the more annoyed I become. I can't even be bothered to write a thoughtful critique much like the author couldn't be bothered to write a book with an actual plot. The entire time I listened all I could think was: what is the point here?

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Banal

Story didn't have much compelling to it. As a Bostonian it captures western MA well, but that's about it. Kind of like a reverse animal farm, for adults. None of the characters was particularly compelling.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

A depressing waste of time.

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

If there would have been some sort of plot and more than one character who was not angry, bitter and ignorant.

What could Jonathan Dee have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Had some positive perspectives. The majority of the characters view life and him or herself with negativity. No one is happy.

What three words best describe George Newbern and Ray Porter ’s performance?

They were fantastic.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

None that I can think of.

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Boring

Some clever dialogue, but overall a huge snore. Thoughtfully written, but uneventful. No identifiable premise. A true enough portrait of life, but no story at all. The reader does a very good job.